Throughout history, alcohol has been the drug that brings together people of all ages, classes, social cliques and backgrounds. It’s an important part of our local communities as well. Of course, a lot of damage has been done due to booze abuse, whether it’s abuse by the drinker or the bartender. Regardless, people using and distributing alcohol irresponsibly has taken quite the toll on our local art spaces. At least in my home city of Boise, venues have been shut down for such a thing.
I want to touch on a couple ways that our art communities suffer due to alcohol irresponsibility. This is more than just a “people die when they drive drunk” post, although that’s an important thing to remember anytime alcohol is involved. This is a post about two angles from which alcohol and irresponsibility can ruin an arts community if we, the distributor and the consumer, are not careful.
Serving to minors
Respect local spaces enough to follow the rules in place that keep them going.
Having a separate bar in an art space is a great way to keep doors open while catering to a community. There’s no doubt about that: Slabtown in Portland was around for years due to such a strategy (although it did close last year, unfortunately). However, other places haven’t been so lucky. Sometimes there are legal issues—Boise’s The Crux was told they didn’t qualify as a restaurant, and so they could not sell alcohol, which ultimately took away most of their business. But a common reason for this is careless bartenders not looking at IDs—such a thing has been known to shut down creative spaces. Our other local venues here in Boise have gotten in trouble for such a thing and have been at times forced to go out of business or 21+ just to stay afloat.
It also kills a community by creating a stigma about art communities, since penalties for underage possession of alcohol can be so damaging; it creates a mindset in the local community that these environments only foster irresponsibility in youths, who unfortunately are stereotyped as alcohol abusers already. If you care about a thriving art community for all ages, which is ideal, you need to not let your bars serve kids. It’s too risky if you get caught, and it very likely could take a toll on your community. Don’t do it.
Being a rowdy disturbance
Not only does the blame for broken art communities lie on the sellers of the alcohol, but the partakers in drinking. If you show up to a community event and are a disturbance, whether that means you are violent, loud or making people uncomfortable, then you are being a threat to that community and it’s a good time to stop showing up to those events in such a headspace.
I’ve seen one too many fights and annoying disturbances and confrontational conflicts happen at big events that are supposed to bring people together for art. It ruins the vibe, people are put in danger and/or moved out of said establishments, and it diminishes the likelihood of those kinds of events happening again. Also, if you’re an underage person who drinks, don’t drink at these establishments! Whether or not it’s provided to you, you could get the owners of the establishment in big trouble and risk their space being around much longer.
If you’re as sick of local spaces going out of business as I am, then respect them enough to follow the rules in place that keep them going.
So let me reiterate.
I’m not saying alcohol isn’t bad. I’m saying that drinking responsibly means more than not getting behind the wheel of a car or having a friend drive you home. Our art spaces and local communities for such expression are important. Let’s not sacrifice them for carelessness, let’s stay aware of what maintains them and be aware of how our actions may affect it.